Ian Poulter’s game in good shape ahead of Italian Open
‘In terms of my golf game, I think I’m a better golfer today than I was 15 years ago’
England’s Ian Poulter during a Pro-Am event prior to the start of the Italian Open at Gardagolf Country Club in Brescia. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Poulter won his first European Tour event in Sardinia in 2000, and tasted victory again in Rome two years later, but has not contested the Italian Open since 2004, a year after it was last played at this week’s venue of Gardagolf in Brescia.
However, the 42-year-old’s form in 2018, which produced his first victory worldwide since 2012 in the Houston Open, means he is among the favourites for the second Rolex Series event of the season, which carries a prize fund of €6 million.
“Obviously my first victory many years ago now, when I look back, was one which kind of got it all started for me,” Poulter said. “It’s been quite a lot of time since last playing in Italy, and I’m very much looking forward to this week.
“I think my hair’s a bit shorter, I think I’ve got a few more wrinkles, I’ve got plenty of grey. So there’s a big difference there.
“In terms of my golf game, I think I’m a better golfer today than I was 15 years ago. I’m mentally the same person, I feel fresh, I’m still young at heart. I have a lot to give in golf, and for me the big difference is I’m definitely stronger in the mind than I was 15 years ago.”
Poulter comes into the week on the back of a tie for 20th in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, and the world number 27 added: “I think my game’s in shape. When you look at my statistics and my current form from the start of 2018, I’ve played very well, played very consistently.
“Getting the win in Houston was a huge boost – to make the Masters, to set up this summer’s golf – it is something which I’m pretty proud of. The form that I’m in is now about having a strong summer.
“It’s about getting myself in position to make the Ryder Cup team and really enjoy my family time. The family arrive tomorrow [Thursday] evening in the UK and they are going to spend about 11 weeks.”
Home favourite Francesco Molinari is also seeking a third Italian Open victory after claiming his fifth European Tour title at Wentworth on Sunday.
“Obviously the expectations would have been high anyway, so I was glad to get the win last week,” the 35-year-old said. “It’s been an intense couple of days but it’s great. I reflect on it, and I’m really proud of the way I performed over the weekend.
“It’s great to be here now in Italy, coming off of that, and I hope that I make the most of the high and have another good week.
“I enjoy the home support, and it’s great to see all the crowd getting behind you. Obviously it’s a little bit of pressure, but I’ve been managing that well in the past, and I’m looking forward to that again this year.”